COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (NNS) -- Three days into the inaugural Wounded Warrior Games at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., the Team Navy's fans are still going strong.
The stands are crowded with spectators, cheering for their family or fellow services members, but none so loud as those in blue and yellow. Team Navy's fans stand out in the crowds, shaking pom-poms and jangling yellow cowbells distributed by Navy Safe Harbor in what were referred to as Navy pride packs.
However, noisemakers were not the only way Safe Harbor contributed to the athlete's journey to the games. Navy Safe Harbor has played a major role in the inaugural Wounded Warrior games, starting with the first step.
"We were basically the recruiting agency for the athletes for the Navy and the Coast Guard," said Lt. Courtney Pollman, Navy Safe Harbor's Special Projects Analyst. "We brought a support staff of 15 people to support our athletes here by providing around the clock availability to a doctor, a physical therapist, a coach, anything from running out and getting them last minute stuff they didn't know they needed, to getting them from point A to point B in time."
Navy Safe Harbor is the Navy's lead organization for coordinating the non-medical care of wounded, ill, and injured Sailors, Coast Guardsmen, and their families.
"We provide the Sailors and coast guardsmen with assistance in navigating the bureaucracy," said Lt. Courtney Pollman, Navy Safe Harbor's Special Projects Analyst. "We don't necessarily give them access to anything they aren't already entitled to, but we help them sort out what they're entitled to, what they need, what's in their best interests... We help them establish goals and we help get them there."
"They have pretty much organized, coordinated, and done everything for the Navy warriors as well as their families and spouses," said Stephanie Rose, a Navy Wounded Warrior. "They secured hotels and shuttle services for us, they flew us out here, and they've been ultimately really supportive ever since we've arrived."
The first medal was handed out on day three of the games, and though the Navy team was not the recipient, spirits have not fallen on the courts or in the bleachers. Navy Safe Harbor's Program Director, Capt. Oakley Watkins said the Warrior Games are an outstanding opportunity for competitors to capitalize on and demonstrate their abilities rather than showcasing their disabilities.
"It's really motivating for them as individuals and the whole team to show that they have abilities and they can do things that even some people who are not injured can do," Watkins said. "This really shows the team spirit, that competitiveness between the different services, and shares in that camaraderie that they have, that commonality of being injured. There's no difference between a wounded soldier or a wounded Sailor."
From May 10 to 14, more than 200 service members are participating in the inaugural version of the Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo. The Warrior Games are a joint venture of the Defense Department, the U.S. Olympic Committee and the USO to promote the positive impact adaptive sports can have on veterans dealing with disabilities.
For more news from the fleet visit www.navy.mil.